8 Small Space Design Tips to Makeover Your Home

My ultimate goal in any makeover, including small space design, is to create lasting change. It's not simply to put a bandage over an area so that we can get a really pretty Instagram shot. I want to create spaces that are as equally functional as they are beautiful.

So this is my 8-step process for how I plan makeovers either for myself or for clients. I hope it helps you come up with small-space interior design ideas that work for you.

Organized wardrobe

1. Don’t buy things prematurely

I know this sounds really weird but my approach to small space interior design makeovers is remembering that most people already have enough stuff in their house that they can makeover their space twice.

I'm not saying that we'll never buy anything new during the makeover process. But, if you buy something early on—maybe it's on sale or just an impulse purchase—there's a good chance that after you finish all the other phases of the makeover, you might not even like what you bought anymore.

This is probably the hardest thing that I see people doing and nobody ever listens.

Buying furniture before planning the space

2. Be realistic

It is fun to jump into a makeover whenever you're feeling inspired, but if you're not careful, things might just blow up in your face down the road.

The most obvious thing is your budget, but I have a couple of others that you might not have considered before like how much work you are willing to put in yourself, how much time you have to dedicate to this project, and whether or not the style of this space is going to reflect the wants and needs of everyone in the family.

Cleaning the bathroom

3. Start with cleaning

Interior design for small spaces isn’t just about adding new items to your home. If you're unhappy with your space now, cleaning it is the quickest and cheapest way to give your room a makeover and clear your mind since you're just working with what you already have.

It can be so tempting whenever you're sitting in a dirty or messy space to feel very pessimistic about the whole situation.

Organizing a kitchen

You might feel like you need to do a whole makeover, buy new furniture, or pick out new decor. But that's not really getting to the root of the problem. Sometimes the root of the problem is that your house is a disaster, and you need to clean it.

Decluttering a home

4. Declutter and start fresh

The number one small house design mistake that I see over and over again is that people have too much stuff in their houses. What I like to do in every single space is to work with a clean slate. I need to have a fresh start and, honestly, it's not even until we do this step that I can really see the potential.

Decluttering items

Even if that means taking pictures off the wall or taking away every decor item so there's zero personality left in the room, that's fine by me. Once we do that, we have all of the most important possessions in one space, and we know that these are all items that we want to represent in our makeover.

We can kind of build the makeover around that later, and I promise you that once you declutter your space, this is where the mental shift starts to happen, and you start to feel so much lighter.

Organizing your space

5. Get organized

Organizing your space right now is a really important step that often gets skipped. Organizing helps you be very observant of how you use a space. And being very realistic about that is going to make your design so much better.

Packing up items you don't need

6. Give yourself a challenge

Your space is going to start to feel different after you complete all the previous steps, so take a moment and see how your space makes you now.

Sometimes, all the changes that we completed before were exactly what you needed in order to really feel good about it and give it the makeover that you wanted in the first place. If it's not, that's okay too.

Using a shelving unit as a divider

One thing that I like to do is to challenge yourself creatively. Take stock of all those things that you did and get creative with how you could reuse or upcycle those in your space.

Designing a small space

7. Design

This is where I have many different approaches that I just kind of adapt depending on the client and their needs. If you don't know where to start with buying pieces for your makeover, what I suggest doing is to start buying the functional pieces first.

Sofas, rugs, chairs, tables, and anything else that you identified in the organizing stage go to the top of the list. Those are the things we're going to start buying first and then we're going to add all the decor pieces on top of that.

Mood board for a bedroom design

8. Find your style

Some of you might have a very clear direction for what your style is, while others won’t. Maybe during the decluttering process, you set aside a lot of pieces that are really going to dictate the direction we head in, or maybe you have a lot of antiques that you want to display.

Small space design ideas

If you don't have a clue at all, I recommend getting on Pinterest and starting two different boards: one for your likes and one for your dislikes. For your likes, gather images of things that inspire you then analyze them to figure out what it is that you like about them. It's equally important to build a catalog of things that you don't like because you can find out even more about your style from your dislikes.

Small space design

Small space design is a really creative process, and these are all the steps I follow time and time again whenever I’m completing makeovers for myself or my clients. Which step resonated the most with you? Let me know in the comments section below.

Join the conversation
  • Christy Christy on Oct 29, 2023
    Everything you said is true! Decluttering and cleaning will definitely give you a different per
  • Christy Christy on Oct 29, 2023
    Oops....I meant to say a different perspective on your space.